Kids design a new ‘benchmark’ for local community

A new bench, designed by children from Malden Manor for the use of local residents, is to be unveiled this Spring.

It’s part of Kingston Council’s Active Travel for Health scheme in partnership with Sustrans, a charity that encourages people to enjoy their environment by walking and cycling locally. Once installed, the bench will provide a resting point for walkers going to the Hogsmill and surrounding area.

Sustrans ran design workshops both in the community and at Malden Manor Primary School, where children were encouraged to develop their drawing and modelling skills by designing a bench that would fit in with their local environment and meet the needs of the community. The designs – ranging from an octopus bench to a rainbow bench – were then entered into a community-wide competition to find the most suitable bench for the area.

In the end it was nine year old Owen Bicker, a pupil at Malden Manor Primary School, who emerged as the winner with his chess-themed bench and integrated playing board.

His Headteacher, Mrs Merryl Roberson said:  “We’re all very excited about being involved in this project and seeing Owen’s winning bench design installed in our local area for the benefit of the community. Many of our children enjoyed taking part in the design competition and they can’t wait to use the new bench. Perhaps it will even encourage local youngsters to take up chess or draughts.”

The bench will be used in further projects with the children in Malden Manor to map and walk routes in the area, acting as a landmark and meeting point – and a permanent tribute to the enthusiasm and creativity of Malden Manor’s young people.

The Council would like to hear from anyone who would like to get involved or volunteer with the project. Contact Louise Gold on 07879 809169 or at: Louise.Gold@sustrans.org.uk